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The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

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    LXXXI.

    OR I shall live your epitaph to make,
    Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;
    From hence your memory death cannot take,
    Although in me each part will be forgotten.
    Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
    Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
    The earth can yield me but a common grave,
    When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.
    Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read,
    And tongues to be your being shall rehearse
    When all the breathers of this world are dead;
    You still shall live--such virtue hath my pen--
    Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

    LXXXII.

    I GRANT thou wert not married to my Muse
    And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook
    The dedicated words which writers use
    Of their fair subject, blessing every book
    Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue,
    Finding thy worth a limit past my praise,
    And therefore art enforced to seek anew
    Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days
    And do so, love; yet when they have devised
    What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
    Thou truly fair wert truly sympathized
    In true plain words by thy true-telling friend;
    And their gross painting might be better used
    Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abused.

    LXXXIII.

    I NEVER saw that you did painting need
    And therefore to your fair no painting set;
    I found, or thought I found, you did exceed
    The barren tender of a poet's debt;
    And therefore have I slept in your report,
    That you yourself being extant well might show
    How far a modern quill doth come too short,
    Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.
    This silence for my sin you did impute,
    Which shall be most my glory, being dumb;
    For I impair not beauty being mute,
    When others would give life and bring a tomb.
    There lives more life in one of your fair eyes
    Than both your poets can in praise devise.

    LXXXIV.

    WHO is it that says most? which can say more
    Than this rich praise, that you alone are you?
    In whose confine immured is the store
    Which should example where your equal grew.
    Lean penury within that pen doth dwell
    That to his subject lends not some small glory;
    But he that writes of you, if he can tell
    That you are you, so dignifies his story,
    Let him but copy what in you is writ,
    Not making worse what nature made so clear,
    And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,
    Making his style admired every where.
    You to your beauteous blessings add a curse,
    Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse.

    LXXXV.

    MY tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
    While comments of your praise, richly compiled,
    Reserve their character with golden quill
    And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.
    I think good thoughts whilst other write good words,
    And like unletter'd clerk still cry 'Amen'
    To every hymn that able spirit affords
    In polish'd form of well-refined pen.
    Hearing you praised, I say ''Tis so, 'tis true,'
    And to the most of praise add something more;
    But that is in my thought, whose love to you,
    Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before.
    Then others for the breath of words respect,
    Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.

    LXXXVI.

    WAS it the proud full sail of his great verse,
    Bound for the prize of all too precious you,
    That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
    Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
    Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
    Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
    No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
    Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
    He, nor that affable familiar ghost
    Which nightly gulls him with intelligence
    As victors of my silence cannot boast;
    I was not sick of any fear from thence:
    But when your countenance fill'd up his line,
    Then lack'd I matter; that enfeebled mine.

    LXXXVII.

    FAREWELL! thou art too dear for my possessing,
    And like enough thou know'st thy estimate:
    The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
    My bonds in thee are all determinate.
    For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
    And for that riches where is my deserving?
    The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
    And so my patent back again is swerving.
    Thyself thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,
    Or me, to whom thou gavest it, else mistaking;
    So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
    Comes home again, on better judgment making.
    Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,
    In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.

    LXXXVIII.

    WHEN thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
    And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
    Upon thy side against myself I'll fight,
    And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn.
    With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
    Upon thy part I can set down a story
    Of faults conceal'd, wherein I am attainted,
    That thou in losing me shalt win much glory:
    And I by this will be a gainer too;
    For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,
    The injuries that to myself I do,
    Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.
    Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
    That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.

    LXXXIX.

    SAY that thou didst forsake me for some fault,
    And I will comment upon that offence;
    Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt,
    Against thy reasons making no defence.
    Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill,
    To set a form upon desired change,
    As I'll myself disgrace: knowing thy will,
    I will acquaintance strangle and look strange,
    Be absent from thy walks, and in my tongue
    Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell,
    Lest I, too much profane, should do it wrong
    And haply of our old acquaintance tell.
    For thee against myself I'll vow debate,
    For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate.

    XC.

    THEN hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
    Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
    Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
    And do not drop in for an after-loss:
    Ah, do not, when my heart hath 'scoped this sorrow,
    Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe;
    Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
    To linger out a purposed overthrow.
    If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
    When other petty griefs have done their spite
    But in the onset come; so shall I taste
    At first the very worst of fortune's might,
    And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
    Compared with loss of thee will not seem so.

    XCI.

    SOME glory in their birth, some in their skill,
    Some in their wealth, some in their bodies' force,
    Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,
    Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
    And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
    Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
    But these particulars are not my measure;
    All these I better in one general best.
    Thy love is better than high birth to me,
    Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
    Of more delight than hawks or horses be;
    And having thee, of all men's pride I boast:
    Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
    All this away and me most wretched make.

    XCII.

    BUT do thy worst to steal thyself away,
    For term of life thou art assured mine,
    And life no longer than thy love will stay,
    For it depends upon that love of thine.
    Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs,
    When in the least of them my life hath end.
    I see a better state to me belongs
    Than that which on thy humour doth depend;
    Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind,
    Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie.
    O, what a happy title do I find,
    Happy to have thy love, happy to die!
    But what's so blessed-fair that fears no blot?
    Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.

    XCIII.

    SO shall I live, supposing thou art true,
    Like a deceived husband; so love's face
    May still seem love to me, though alter'd new;
    Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:
    For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
    Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
    In many's looks the false heart's history
    Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange,
    But heaven in thy creation did decree
    That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
    Whate'er thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be,
    Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.
    How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow,
    if thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!

    XCIV.

    THEY that have power to hurt and will do none,
    That do not do the thing they most do show,
    Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
    Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,
    They rightly do inherit heaven's graces
    And husband nature's riches from expense;
    They are the lords and owners of their faces,
    Others but stewards of their excellence.
    The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
    Though to itself it only live and die,
    But if that flower with base infection meet,
    The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
    For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
    Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

    XCV.

    HOW sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
    Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
    Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
    O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!
    That tongue that tells the story of thy days,
    Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
    Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise;
    Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
    O, what a mansion have those vices got
    Which for their habitation chose out thee,
    Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot,
    And all things turn to fair that eyes can see!
    Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege;
    The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.

    XCVI.

    SOME say thy fault is youth, some wantonness;
    Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
    Both grace and faults are loved of more and less;
    Thou makest faults graces that to thee resort.
    As on the finger of a throned queen
    The basest jewel will be well esteem'd,
    So are those errors that in thee are seen
    To truths translated and for true things deem'd.
    How many lambs might the stem wolf betray,
    If like a lamb he could his looks translate!
    How many gazers mightst thou lead away,
    If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!
    But do not so; I love thee in such sort
    As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.

    XCVII.

    HOW like a winter hath my absence been
    From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
    What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
    What old December's bareness every where!
    And yet this time removed was summer's time,
    The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
    Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
    Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
    Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
    But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
    For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
    And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
    Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
    That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

    XCVIII

    FROM you have I been absent in the spring,
    When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim
    Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
    That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.
    Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
    Of different flowers in odour and in hue
    Could make me any summer's story tell,
    Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;
    Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
    Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
    They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
    Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
    Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away,
    As with your shadow I with these did play:

    XCIX

    THE forward violet thus did I chide:
    Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
    If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
    Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
    In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
    The lily I condemned for thy hand,
    And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair:
    The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
    One blushing shame, another white despair;
    A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both
    And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;
    But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
    A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
    More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
    But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.

    C

    WHERE art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long
    To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
    Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
    Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
    Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
    In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
    Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
    And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
    Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey,
    If Time have any wrinkle graven there;
    If any, be a satire to decay,
    And make Time's spoils despised every where.
    Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life;
    So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.


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